In loving memory of Josetta Asha Koshy and Rosalie Heaney.
Chop onions until your eyes gush
Enough to flood the sting.
Chop, chop! As saline bleeds
Into milky juice leaking and
You no longer know where
Vegetable ends and you begin
(or is it you who’s ending?).
Chop one for the babe
Who will never get to taste it
(her heart lulled to a pause;
Mother weeps herself to sleep).
Chop one for the flesh
Eaten to death (in heaven
it’s the cancer that rots).
Heat the pan ’til the butter foams
And toss the onion in. Grind in the
Pepper and add in salt gingerly.
Adjust the heat (too much and it burns,
Too little and it stays raw and rigid).
Now wait. Resist the urge to rush-
Sit with it. Don’t leave
It unattended: wait upon it.
Stir every so often. Wait some more.
(how long? is there such a thing as too long?)
Then (you don’t so much see it as know it)
The last of the stiffness melts
Away and the slices stop resisting
And meld together, surrendering to
The embrace of the base of the hot pan,
Constant and still. It happens so slowly
You hardly notice but somehow you know it:
Add garlic and sugar. Now you must
Stir and stir and stir to stop it all
Catching and turning bitter
(don’t grow weary, you’re not done yet).
Stir and watch and wait until
It all succumbs to sweetness.
They seem smaller after all
They’ve endured, those little
Golden crowns, yet their fragrance
Fills the whole room.
Add a dessertspoon of flour and
Mix, mix, mix, mix, mix
As it cooks for a minute
Before you add the stock.
Simmer for twenty minutes
(it’s all quite quick in the end)